“Why Aren’t You Married?” and Other Things Never to Say to Singles
With Valentine’s Day (or as one friend calls it, “Singles Awareness Day”) behind us, I thought it appropriate to share a few things that hopefully will indeed raise some awareness and enhance people’s understanding about us singles. In my personal experience, it seems the Church as a whole is full of well-meaning but ill-informed folks who often married at a young age and don’t know what it’s like to be a single adult (being single in high school is not the same!!), and so they say things from time to time, in an attempt to understand or even “fix” our plight, as they often seem to see it, not realizing such statements or questions really aren’t helpful and can at times even be frustrating. So, this week I’m going to attempt to educate the greater public about my people and a few things we do NOT find helpful.
“Why aren’t you married?” Let’s start with the title, shall we? Here’s why this question is such a source of frustration for many of us: if we knew why we aren’t married, don’t you think we would do something about it? For those of us that want to be married, we don’t have the answer to that question any more than you do! How are we supposed to answer that? “Well, Bob, it seems I overslept and missed the marriage bus when it passed by my house, so now I guess I’m out of luck.” Another implication of this question, though it may not be intentional, is that there’s something wrong with us or odd about us. It’s like asking us why we’re missing a right arm. In other words, it’s as if people are saying, clearly you have this “singleness disease”, so how in the world did you catch it and is there a cure? Because something must be wrong with you if you’re not married. I mean, you couldn’t possibly be happy and fulfilled as a single person, that’s just impossible. Believe it or not, people can actually enjoy their season of singleness, so why not celebrate it with us instead of assuming something is wrong?
“Have you tried online dating?” This is becoming a more and more popular response, similar to “ I’ve got someone I could fix you up with” (which are some of the most dreaded words in a single’s world, believe me!). It’s almost as though, if you’ve been single for whatever length of time society has decided is “too long”, then you’re obligated to do online dating and if you haven’t then your singleness is your own fault. It’s important to understand: my singleness is not a problem that needs fixing! Though I appreciate people’s intentions of wanting me to be happy, guess what? I’m happy now! And I’m at peace that God does not intend to use online dating as a tool to bring me my husband, though He may use that tool in others’ lives, and that’s fine. Please don’t assume the single person you’re talking to isn’t trying hard enough just because they’re not dating online. Most who have dated online will tell you, there are some pretty scary folks out there! The bottom line is we have to follow where God calls us in all our decisions, and as He guides those steps, He will lead us to the partner He has for us. That may be online or through a blind date, or it may not.
“I bet it won’t be long now.” *Sigh*…Let me tell you how many times over the years I have heard these words! They’re meant to encourage us that our season of waiting is almost over. Here’s why I would discourage people from saying this to singles: unless the Lord has specifically spoken into your spirit and told you the waiting for that person is almost over, please don’t say it! What it actually will do is give false hope, which is always followed by disappointment and discouragement. The fact is, only God knows how long our season of waiting will be. What’s more helpful is to encourage us to savor this season for however long it lasts, and trust that God is always faithful to bring us the desires of our hearts when we yield to Him! Remind us that God’s best in any situation is always worth the wait. Those are words we can benefit from!
I’m sure there are any more things I could add here, but these are a few of the most common well-intentioned but unhelpful things we as singles often hear. In general remember that we are not broken, we don’t need fixing, and we don’t need false hope! We do have ways we need to grow and issues we need to work on, but so do you; that’s just part of the human experience whether you’re married or not. If our issues are keeping us from being successful in relationships and you recognize that, then feel free to discuss that with us in love, but don’t assume if we’ve been single for a while that it’s because we have “issues” or “baggage” getting in our way. It may simply be that God does not want us married at this time. What we need during this season is encouragement based on God’s promises to help us not just endure our season of singleness, but to thrive in it and yes, even enjoy it!